Using Google Health, a free personal health record tool, requires patients to be proactive both in terms of creating their electronic health record (EHR) and in checking the accuracy of the information loaded into the EHR, particularly when it comes from insurance claims data.  An article published in the April 13, 2009 issue of "The Boston Globe" illustrates how inclusion of raw insurance claims data in an EHR can be misleading and result in inaccurate diagnoses and even life-threatening situations.

Google Health and other EHR tools can greatly improve communication among health care providers, and offer patients a way of taking charge of their health records.  However, while insurance claims data can help to quickly and efficiently populate the patient’s EHR, it can also create a misleading picture of a patient’s past medical history and current health status.  If, for example, a patient’s insurance paid for a colonoscopy or other diagnostic procedure to rule out cancer, the billing code information may make it appear that the patient was, in fact, diagnosed with the condition the procedure actually ruled out. 
The lesson?  Users of Google Health and other EHR tools should review their information for accuracy, and involve their physicians in the review and update of their personal health information.